Chrysler Letter on CR Slam

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago

Dear Colleagues,

Yesterday, Consumer Reports announced results from its 2008 Annual Auto Reliability Survey. Subscribers to Consumer Reports are surveyed each year about the vehicles in their households. Predicted reliability for new models is based on the previous three model years for the same model.

This year Chrysler LLC vehicles trailed the industry average and dropped in ranking when compared with last year’s study. The decline in our ratings is based on the results for 2008 model year vehicles that were built about one year ago.

Based on our aggressive focus on warranty claim rate reduction, we know that the cars we are building today have a much higher standard of overall quality. Having said that, due to the three-year window, Consumer Reports ratings are slow to change.

The results tell us a few important things about our approach to quality over the last few years:

* Our overall reliability is below industry average.
* We do have some vehicles that scored above average for reliability.
* We have a corporate-wide commitment to quality that is well on its way and essential to get Chrysler back on the path to sustainability and profitability.

Summary of Results

Predicted reliability is Consumer Reports’ forecast of how well models currently on sale are likely to perform. The Chrysler brand is ranked 32 out of 34 brands and dropped 13 positions compared with the 2007 rankings. Dodge ranked 30 out of 34 and dropped five positions. Jeep ranked 28 out of 34, which is the same as last year.

There were a couple of highlights in the Chrysler results. The Dodge Caliber and Jeep Patriot were ranked above industry average and were considered the best models of the company’s brands.

Clearly, we are not satisfied with our overall results and continue to work aggressively in new ways to improve every aspect of customer satisfaction as we are committed to deliver products that meet consumers’ needs. Since the vehicles in this survey were built, a tremendous amount has been accomplished. We have formed 18 new, cross-functional teams to correct quality problems by vehicle system. Our Customer Satisfaction Teams (CST) are comprised of more than 250 people who have helped reduce quality issues since January. We are continuously measuring our progress and improving the way we work to accelerate our improvement.

In addition to the CSTs, the development processes and testing procedures put into place nearly five years ago have helped with the high-quality launch of the 2009 Dodge Ram. For example, before the 2009 Dodge Ram went on sale, nearly 6.5 million customer-equivalent miles were logged by Dodge truck engineers. The 2009 Ram went through more than 200 hours of wind noise and aerodynamic evaluations, and engineers conducted approximately 40,000 hours of full-scale vehicle and system testing for durability and reliability of the vehicle.

While we expect our company-wide quality initiatives to be successful, we will continue our focus on the needs of our current customers and the priorities of those consumers who are considering future vehicle purchases. Thank you for your hard work and dedication to quality improvement. With all of us having the same focus of “Customer First” and “Quality … Period,” we will continue to accelerate our commitment to quality and strive to meet the needs of our customers.


Doug Betts
Vice President and Chief Customer Officer

[thanks to you know who you are]

Join the conversation
2 of 23 comments
  • Steven Lang Steven Lang on Oct 26, 2008

    Just as a footnote, the following brands had absolutely zero trade-in's with over 150k: Kia (0 for 34) Suzuki (0 for 12) Saab (0 for 6) Land Rover (0 for 20) The following only had one... Lincoln (1 out of 40) Jaguar (1 out of 14) Cadillac (1 out of 40) Compared with... Acura (14 out of 39) 36% Volvo (11 out of 37) 30% Jeep... No Wrangler (25 out of 78) 32% and two of my favorites.... Camry (27 out of 73) Accord (27 out of 78) Which still aren't as good as a 1990's Volvo... but pretty damn close.

  • Truthbetold37 Truthbetold37 on Oct 26, 2008

    1993-1994 Chrysler is making cash hand over fist. Instead of using this cash to improve quality, they gave employees outrageous bonuses. They they allowed themselves to be bought by Daimler. Then Cerberus (Satan's Company). If they go out of business they deserve it.

  • MaintenanceCosts Despite my hostile comments above I really can't wait to see a video of one of these at the strip. A production car running mid-eights is just bats. I just hope that at least one owner lets it happen, rather than offloading the car from the trailer straight into a helium-filled bag that goes into a dark secured warehouse until Barrett-Jackson 2056.
  • Schurkey Decades later, I'm still peeved that Honda failed to recall and repair the seat belts in my '80 Civic. Well-known issue with the retractors failing to retract.Honda cut a deal with the NHTSA at that time, to put a "lifetime warranty" on FUTURE seat belts, in return for not having to deal with the existing problems.Dirtbags all around. Customers screwed, corporation and Government moves on.
  • Bullnuke An acquaintance of mine 50+ years ago who was attending MIT (until General Hershey's folks sent him his "Greetings" letter) converted an Austin Mini from its staid 4 cylinder to an electric motored fuel cell vehicle. It was done as a project during his progression toward a Master Degree in Electrical Engineering. He told me it worked pretty well but wasn't something to use as a daily driver given the technology and availability of suitable components of the time. Fueling LH2 and LOX was somewhat problematic. Upon completion he removed his fuel cell and equipment and, for another project, reinstalled the 4 banger but reassembled it without mechanical fasteners using an experimental epoxy adhesive instead which, he said, worked much better and was a daily driver...for awhile. He went on to be an enlisted Reactor Operator on a submarine for a few years.
  • Ajla $100k is walking around money but this is almost certainly the last Dodge V8 vehicle and it's likely to be the most powerful factory-installed and warrantied pushrod engine ever. So there is some historical applicability to things even if you have an otherwise low opinion of the Challenger.And, like I said up thread, if you still hate it will be gone soon anyway.
  • Carlson Fan GM completely blew the marketing of the Volt. The commercials were terrible. You'd swear they told the advertising company to come up with an ad that would make sure no one went out and shopped a Volt after seeing it!...........LOL My buddy asked why I bought a car that only goes 40 miles on a charge? That pretty much sums up how confusing and uninformative the advertising was.